National Trust of Guyana

Mazaruni Prison Complex

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Location: Mazaruni River, Essequibo 

Classification: Community 

Period/ Year Built: 1842-1843 

Historical Background / Description: 

The Mazaruni Prison Complex is located on the left bank of the Mazaruni River close to where it branches off from the Essequibo River. The prison serves as the custodial home for male prisoners convicted with long penal sentences. The penitentiary, formerly known as the Mazaruni Penal Settlement, was initially built for the confinement of male and female offenders who were convicted to hard labour exceeding two months. 

In 1841, the Combined Court of British Guiana established a Commission which was headed by Mr. Patrick Horan to locate a suitable site for the prison. On August 1, 1842, Mr. Horan and 35 masons, carpenters and labourers commenced work on the settlement which was completed in nine months. After completion, the 0.04 square kilometres (10 acres) Penal Settlement included a prison range, the Superintendents quarters, a chapel and a hospital. Mr. Patrick Horan died on the settlement in July 1844. By 1853, the use of prisoners in the quarry, agricultural and logging industries made the penitentiary self-sufficient. During the 20th century, the prison was renamed and the use of prisoners for profit was discontinued.